Friday, May 27, 2011

My sweet baby boy -- reading!

Watch this cute video they captured at school of Matt and his friend, Laura, reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear together! It is too cute!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Travel diary, the final chapter

Paul and I are sitting at the gate at JFK waiting to get back to our babies and our real lives. Leaving my little people for 13 days wasn't easy (but, contradictorily, was a bit refreshing) and I am eager for some hugs and some serious snuggle time.

May 17 marked a national holiday for Norway (similar to our July 4) that is celebrated with lots of parades. In Trondheim, their were 3 parades over the course of the day - the first full of little children representing their schools, the second more like a traditional parade, and the third for the high school graduates celebrating "russ" (a period of time right after finishing high school where they wear red overalls and run wild). Between the parade participants and the onlookers, I can't imagine anyone was in their homes. I was amazed by their nationalism, most of the onlookers had on traditional native dress (beautiful woolen skirts and vests where the colors and floral patterns represent the region of Norway they are from). People not in that attire were dressed up, lots of men in black suits - not at all like our 4th of July from a fashion perspective.

On our 9 year wedding anniversary, we spent the day on a train ride from Trondheim to Oslo. The countryside was beautiful with rolling snowcapped hills, the occasional farm with fields full of sheep and fuzzy little lambs, and views of the longest river in Norway. When we got in to Oslo it was raining but that didn't stop some of us from heading out to see the sites. We walked down a pedestrian mall, saw the palace, and marched on to an amazing park full of the most fascinating statuary (the pictured featured here among them).

Since then it has been the long process of getting home...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Travel Diary, Days 4-7: Birthdays, Beards, and Fjords

So, my access to good computers has been hit or miss and has impacted my blogging. I'm also having trouble uploading pictures so sorry I can't share one here - too bad because I have a good one of Paul (in his competition get up) and I (freshly turned 40!).
Since I last posted we have spent two days relaxing aboard the ship Hurtigruten, travelling to Trondheim (Northish, I think). We had spectacular views of the Fjords (cliff like mountains with waterfalls everywhere you look, often snowcapped). It was a great time to slow down and watch the beauty pass us by rather than chasing it down as one often does sightseeing.
We arrived in Trondheim early on Saturday morning and walked like a pack of refugees with our luggage to the hotel (with 60 year old, Parkinson-ridden Terry leading the way!). I thought we looked quite a sight. After dropping our luggage, we went to a beautiful pipe organ concert at the Cathedral (believed to be built in 1000 AD). It was short but lovely (as they like to say on this side of the pond). Saturday night was the welcoming party for the Beard Championships and it basically a time for the whole cast of characters to get together and socialize. We met lots of unique characters who quickly became friends.
Sunday was the day of competition and the men like a flock of peacocks, preened and ready to show off. It really is a sight to see! Sociology in motion - up close and personal. Paul had only 7 competitors but the competition was stiff and Paul took home only his diploma. But, it was a good showing and got lots of praise from the crowd. For example, the first place winner (and best in show) had his beard styled in to a landscape complete with reindeer and tree. Yes, a reindeer - it was something else.
Yesterday, also marked the 40th anniversary of my birth. Very hard to digest that I could possibly be 40 years old. But, a memorable day it was! While it was one wild day of beard-watching, the highlight was actually getting to hear the voices of my sweet babies thanks to some careful coordination between Ashleigh and Paul (yahoo for Lingo!).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Travel Diary, Day 3. There she blows!

Boy, did we see a lot of interesting stuff today. We took what is called the Golden Circle tour and saw a national park where the two tectonic plates separate (American and Eurasian), we saw the geyser you see here erupt three times! Very cool experience. And we saw the sight of the original Icelandic parliament (created in 900 AD), and a volcano crater.

Tomorrow we fly to Bergen, Norway where we will board a boat for a 36 hour cruise to Trondheim, Norway where the competition will take place. Who knows if there will be internet on the boat so I may have do some catch-up blogging once we are settled in Trondheim.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Travel Diary, Day 3

Today was a fun day. We spent the morning touring the National History Museum of Iceland, lunched at the cafe at the National Library next door, and spent the afternoon shopping and touring the downtown a bit more.

We also walked up to the church you see in the back ground of this picture and went up to the top of the spire. What a view! I got some great photographs of the city of Reykjavik.

Paul and I are featured here blending in like locals (maybe). Me in my new Icelandic wool sweater jacket and Paul in his new fisherman's cap. Aren't we sporting??

Monday, May 09, 2011

Travel Diary, Day 2

So, we are here - in Iceland! All of our flights were smooth sailing and we landed in Iceland in the early morning hours (middle of the night by U.S. standards - we are 4 hours ahead here, on Greenwich Mean Time). When we arrived it was overcast, cold, and rainy. Not the greatest introduction to this interesting land but lucky for us it passed and turned into a beautiful day - sunny with temps arounds 65 (I'm guessing because I am not all that good at Celsius to Fahrenheit conversations - typcial stupid American!).

So, we dragged overselves on to the hired bus and rode in to town to discover it was much too early to check in to our hotel rooms. Instead we hit the buffet breakfast - Icelandic yogurt (Skyr) is soooo good, I will be partaking in some of that every morning while I am here. Then we went off on a walking tour (the logical thing to do when you are absolutely exhausted) and discovered a bit more of the city of Reykhavik. It is practical, quiet, and charming.

And, yes, with that many bearded men in one group we stood out. Blending in will be a challege on this trip! Two cute stories of small Icelandic children encountering the beardies. First, we were in the City Hall and there were 3 small children staring as if they had just seen a purple unicorn. Our guide, Frederik, translated that they were telling there Mommy that there were so many "Christmas men!" Too cute. [On a sidenote to this story, in Iceland they have 13 "Christmas men" that come one each night in the 13 days before Christmas.] The second story involves some elementary school children who were out on a field trip and we crossed paths. The children stopped and stared at these bearded men as if they were aliens who had just landed (which, I guess, in truth we were). As they realized these hairy men were pretty friendly they started to draw closer. I have a cute picture of this line of (mostly) 10 year of boys chatting up this line of bearded men (young peers up at old, or should I say older). Then the bearded men handed out their cards and the kids took this opportunity to surround them - the teachers had to intervene. In the final punchline to the story the children taught the men how to say s-h-i-t in Icelandic, upon which one of rowdier members of the group starting shouting it loudly, breaking the almost of perfect silence of a Reykhavik morning - again, typical Americans.

More to follow....

Sunday, May 08, 2011

It begins - a few of the fellas @ JFK

Travel diary, day 1

As you can see we overlooked all suggestions to travel light! But, boy is this orange luggage easy to spot.

So far, so good. The hotel stay at The Hilton Garden Inn was a great idea, making the morning transition to the airport so easy. Kudos to my mom for encouraging us to do it.

We have safely made our way to JFK and now begin the long wait to get on our international flight. I will spend the afternoon reading and people watching; I suspect Paul will spend most of the time pacing like a caged animal.